Where Style Meets Substance

Hollywood fashion expert, VIP personal shopper and commentator Joseph "Joe" Katz brings you interviews with celebrities and influencers about their style and personal experiences. He also shares the best beauty & lifestyle tips and tricks to help you look and feel your best.

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Ferdinand Kingsley: Up Close and Personal About His Family and Fame

Ferdinand Kingsley: Up Close and Personal About His Family and Fame

Star of stage and screen, Ferdinand Kingsley, tells us what it was like to perform in the film "Mank," the story of the making of the classic film, "Citizen Kane." What was it like being directed by David Fincher and acting with the great Gary Oldman? What was it like for Ferdinand growing up as the son of another great actor of our time, Sir Ben Kingsley? And what advice did his father give him about the business of acting? Answers to all these questions, as well as the discovery of what makes up Ferdinand's cheeky fashion style, can be found in today’s episode.

About Ferdinand Kingsley:

Ferdinand Kingsley is a British actor who can currently be seen portraying the American film producer Irving Thalberg in David Fincher's latest film MANK, opposite Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried and Charles Dance. Amongst his numerous credits across film, TV and stage, Ferdinand is known for his portrayal of Charles Elmé Fancatelli in PBS's VICTORIA.

Follow Ferdinand on Twitter and Instagram





The Katz Walk is a production of Evergreen Podcasts. A special thank you to Executive Producer Gerardo Orlando, Producer Leah Longbrake and Audio Engineer Dave Douglas.

Joe Katz:
Ferdinand, hello, how are you?

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Hi, Joe. I am-

Joe Katz:
Hello. So nice to have-

Ferdinand Kingsley:
... I'm plodding along. I'm all right. How are you?

Joe Katz:
You're plodding along? Fabulous. I'm good. I'm good, I'm good, I'm good. Thank you so much for coming on my show. [crosstalk 00:00:18] I'm so excited to have you on, and it's... What time is it in London?

Ferdinand Kingsley:
It is nine minutes to 6:00 p.m. so I have-

Joe Katz:
Wow.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
... a drink lurking for [crosstalk 00:00:31] time.

Joe Katz:
Oh, look. And I have my morning coffee, because we're still-

Ferdinand Kingsley:
How lovely.

Joe Katz:
... in the morning over here. Isn't that lovely?

Ferdinand Kingsley:
What do you for, please? What kind of coffee do you go for?

Joe Katz:
Actually today I'm doing Expresso pecan. It's a pecan flavor, it's for the holidays.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Oh, how sickly. I love it.

Joe Katz:
You weren't expecting that, right?

Ferdinand Kingsley:
I kind of was.

Joe Katz:
Oh, you were? You were waiting for the pecan? Hm, fabulous. So you go by Ferdie, is that right?

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah. I introduce myself as Ferdie, I always have done, but any variation of some of the letters from my name will do just fine.

Joe Katz:
Cool. Ferdie, Ferdinand... Yes. So, you live in... What part of London are you in? Not that I know where it is, but let's just make like I do.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
How well do you know London?

Joe Katz:
I don't.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Right, so, I live at-

Joe Katz:
Yeah, it doesn't matter.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
... I live in Buckingham Palace.

Joe Katz:
But it sounds good.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
I live in south east London, in a place called Forest Hill, which kind of... The clue is in the name. It's nice and leafy and hilly. It's lovely.

Joe Katz:
Oh, wow. Beautiful.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah, it's really nice.

Joe Katz:
So, did you grow up in that area?

Ferdinand Kingsley:
No. I'm a Midlands boy, so I grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon, because as the child of a theatrical family, I'm an absolutely abominable cliché, I grew up where Shakespeare came from.

Joe Katz:
Mmm.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
And I lived on the river there, next to the theater till I was 18, and then I came to London to go to drama school.

Joe Katz:
Wow. So, obviously, so if people don't know, your dad is Ben Kingsley.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yes.

Joe Katz:
Yes, he is. And-

Ferdinand Kingsley:
That would be a good aside if that was news to me, wouldn't it? If I was like...

Joe Katz:
Yes. Oh, really? Yes. Ben Kingsley.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Really?

Joe Katz:
Oh, he's... Yeah.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
That's why you organized this discussion, wasn't it? You need to break some news to me?

Joe Katz:
Yes. Yes. I wanted to tell you who your father was. So, you grew up in a very... So, your mom was a director? Right?

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah. Yeah, yeah. My mom... I want to say is, but she's had a bit of... Well, I mean, she's a woman in this industry which means that people get bored of you too quickly, so she's semi-retired, but not really retired. She's a theater director, yeah.

Joe Katz:
Wow. And so, is that how she met your dad?

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah. They met under quite strange circumstances. So they met... It was 1974? Three? Four? And my dad was playing Hamlet at the Royal Shakespeare Company and my mom was the director's assistant. The director was an amazing lady called Buzz Goodbody, who was really groundbreaking. She was, I think, the first woman ever to direct the RSC. She was really blazing a trail. She was radical in her work and it was a really radical modern production of Hamlet.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
So, mom was Buzz's assistant, and her flatmate. And really sadly, I think the night or two nights before press night, before opening night of Hamlet, Buzz took her own life. And, yeah-

Joe Katz:
Took her... When you say took her knife, he stabbed her?

Ferdinand Kingsley:
No. No, no, no. Took her own life. That's-

Joe Katz:
Oh, took her own life. Oh, I'm like-

Ferdinand Kingsley:
I know.

Joe Katz:
Oh, I'm trying to... Oh, my God.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
I know. I mean, we can laugh at mishearing that. I think it's allowed.

Joe Katz:
Oh, no.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
But, yeah, no, Buzz-

Joe Katz:
Oh, I thought you said-

Ferdinand Kingsley:
... Buzz killed herself.

Joe Katz:
... I'm sorry, with your accident. With your accent. I thought you said took her own knife. I was like, "What?"

Ferdinand Kingsley:
She gave her a knife... No, she-

Joe Katz:
Oh, no.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
... she killed herself, sadly, and so my mom took over the production with Trevor Nunn, who was the artistic director of the RSC at the time. And that's how my parents met.

Joe Katz:
Really?

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Under very bizarre circumstances. Yeah.

Joe Katz:
Wow. And that's how it started. Wow.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah, and a very, obviously, [crosstalk 00:04:50] a very strange play to be doing in the wake of her death, a play about death and wanting to not live. So that was-

Joe Katz:
Oh, my God.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
... yeah, pretty heavy.

Joe Katz:
That's intense. Wow. So, that's how they met. And then it just kind of evolved. And then your mom always stayed in directing, right?

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean she basically speaks in Shakespearean verse. She could be an authority on it. She could go on any quiz show. That sounds reductive, but, yeah, mom's one of those people that could have been an academic if she wanted to. She's incredibly clever, but is encyclopedic when it comes to Shakespeare.

Joe Katz:
Wow. And so then, you studied that, as well, right?

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah. Well, I studied... Well, it was acting degree at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, which is, I guess, what they call a classical training.

Joe Katz:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ferdinand Kingsley:
That makes it sound like we just went around in doublet and hose, only talking in verse. But we only did that some days. No, it was a really intensive all-round three-year training. It's an amazing drama school. Very small year group. So, yeah, we did that. There was a lot of Shakespeare there, but not exclusively.

Joe Katz:
Wow. And then, so when you... Okay, so when you were a kid, I just want to... And I want to get into a whole bunch of different things, because I want to talk to you about your new show that's coming out on Netflix, so I'm excited about that, but I'd like to know who you are, and I just want to understand where you came from and-

Ferdinand Kingsley:
If you find out-

Joe Katz:
... if it's interesting.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
... let me know.

Joe Katz:
I will. I will write you a whole-

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Please. If you work out who I am-

Joe Katz:
... letter. Actually [crosstalk 00:06:39]

Ferdinand Kingsley:
... I'd be excited to find out.

Joe Katz:
Yes. I'll get up to you. So, then, when you were a kid, so then your parents split up when you were younger, right?

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah, yeah. When I was about four, three, four. As with a lot of breakups, I don't think it was like... thing, so one of those... It took a couple of goes.

Joe Katz:
It happens.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah. So they broke up when I was four, so I don't have many memories of them together. I have a couple of Christmas memories... Well, one Christmas memory, if I'm being honest. And like a flash of visiting dad at work a couple of times. But most of my memories, most of my knowledge of my parents is of them as separate people, which is strange to a lot of people, but it's weirder for me to imagine my parents together than it is to imagine them on their own. When I see pictures of them together, I'm like, "Oh! How do those guys know each other?" But of course, they're friends.

Joe Katz:
How did they get together? Yeah.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah. "Do these guys know that they used to kiss?"

Joe Katz:
Do it again, you guys. Do it again.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah, for old times' sake. Yeah.

Joe Katz:
Wow, and so, when you were a kid... So then, did you see your dad a lot during the... Like when they split?

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah, I did. I mean, there was this sort of... The process of dealing with divorced parents, in general, so like weekends and that. But then it was complicated, of course, by dad being dad and dad being away working so much of the time, which I look back on with the benefit of adulthood and years under my belt and therapy, and think, "Oh, well, actually, that's tough, not having immediate access to one of your parents." It's tough. So, he was off around the world a lot, so it wasn't through any choice to not be there, picking me up from school every day. It was just the way it was, is what I sort of-

Joe Katz:
Right.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
... when I reconcile with my [crosstalk 00:08:59]

Joe Katz:
It's what you got used to.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
It's what you get used to, but then, in a way, you sort of... So you feel like you don't miss what you don't-

Joe Katz:
What you don't have.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
... have. Yeah.

Joe Katz:
Yeah. Exactly.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
But then looking back I'm like, "Oh, actually, I don't really... If I'm ever lucky enough to have kids, I'd have to make sure I knew how to do dad stuff," like in the day-to-day realm, because dad is an amazing dad and a wonderful dad, but he was a dad that, like I said, didn't do the school run every day because that wasn't the-

Joe Katz:
Right. Right.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
... shape of parenthood with us.

Joe Katz:
Yeah. So when you were a kid, did you think, "I want to be an actor?" Or did you think, "I think I want to be a dentist," or, I don't know. "I want to be..."

Ferdinand Kingsley:
I mean, no, I wanted to be spaceman, I wanted to be a soccer player, a fireman, and an actor.

Joe Katz:
And an actor.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
And an actor. Well, I mean, I didn't want to, on any, like one day, but from... I tell people about this vague memory I have of sitting in a green room at the theater where mom was working, and obviously, didn't have childcare that night so I was there with her, or for whatever reason, I don't know. Maybe I was working there.

Joe Katz:
She put you to work.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
I know-

Joe Katz:
Child labor.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
... just sweeping this [crosstalk 00:10:22] and sitting there at nighttime, which is immediately cool, and all these grown-ups milling about, dressed up fantastically and laughing all the time and telling really cool stories and anecdotes, and then going out and doing what I basically thought were fairy tales to hundreds of people, thousands of people, every night, and thinking, "Oh, this looks like quite a nice life. This is quite a fun life." And then, of course, much later do you realize that most actors are out of work most of the time and it's not like that all the time.

Joe Katz:
But when they're working, they're very happy.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
And I stand by that. I stand by that. I think when you're working in this job, it's the best job in the world, as is any job where, if you're doing your hobby, if you're paid to do your hobby, I mean, it doesn't get much better than that, does it?

Joe Katz:
Right. Right.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Then, of course, the crushing pain that comes with not doing what you feel is the thing you love more than anything else. Yeah, I mean, that's very much built into me, that feeling of like, "If I'm being paid to do my hobby, it's heaven." And I think it stops me from being too much of a moaner.

Joe Katz:
Right. But this is, probably, not... I mean, you've been on some majors shows hobby. I wouldn't... Now it's become more than... It's not a hobby, any more, this [crosstalk 00:11:40]

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Absolutely, but still seeing it as a hobby is something that keeps it fresh and enjoyable-

Joe Katz:
Sure.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
.... and makes it never feel like a drag. Makes it never feel like, "Oh, God, I've got to go to work." It's like, "Oh, yeah, I get to go to the playground."

Joe Katz:
Yeah. Wow. So how old were you when you were actually sitting in the theater watching all these older people? Were you like five, six, seven, eight?

Ferdinand Kingsley:
I was probably about seven, yeah.

Joe Katz:
Wow.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
And I would do little... They would, sort of, harvest the town, Stratford-on-Avon for kids to play kid parts in the plays, you know, child at party in Romeo and Juliet, or like child who'll inevitably die in some Ipsen play. And so, I honed my craft, playing those. And I do them. You get like a bit of pocket money. You get like £12 which is what? Like 15, $16 a week, whatever, and you think, "Oh, this is... I'm a little kid and I'm making dollar."

Joe Katz:
You're making money. Yeah.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah. And then you're like... "These people do it all the time." So, yeah, I was probably about seven at the time.

Joe Katz:
Wow. That's great. And so, when you were thinking about... So, then, you went into acting school. You went through high school and then you went onto college to act, and then after that, then... So was it difficult like growing up, because it's like, my dad was Ben Kingsley and I'm getting into it-

Ferdinand Kingsley:
He's your dad as well?

Joe Katz:
... or was it... It's what?

Ferdinand Kingsley:
I said, is he your dad as well?

Joe Katz:
Yes, he is. [crosstalk 00:13:13]

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah, this is a really... This is an intense conversation. It was a typical-

Joe Katz:
We're step-brothers.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
It's... I think difficult is not how I'd describe that. I think, firstly, I've never known anything else. He's just dad to me, so I have no comparable. But I think I would be being disingenuous if I said that there was some rooms, some auditions or discussions that I've got into... I think I'd be disingenuous if I said that there weren't any that I got into because of my surname, because I think, that's inevitable. People are going to be curious as to see, what does the latest in this line of people with that fruity name going to be like? So I think there's some-

Joe Katz:
I like that. It's a fruity name.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
It is a fruity name. I'm a fruity guy. So I think some doors maybe opened a little bit because of that, but I think on the flip side of that, there's never a sense of... There's no neutral. There's no like blank slate. Everyone's got either an opinion or an expectation, good, bad, ugly, whatever, about dad and therefore about me at the start of my career. Like, "Go on, then, what's he going to be like?" Or, maybe they think that you are limited by your background in some way.

Joe Katz:
Right.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
So I think that while it probably peaked some people's curiosity in me, it may also have led people to be like, "Well, well, I've made up my mind about him before I've really met him." And in my young man's neurosis, I guess, I was so desperate to — I've got different kind of neuroses now — desperate to prove to myself, really, and everyone else that I was doing it for my reasons. That I was doing this job because I wanted to do it, and because I was good at it, not because I had a leg up, and I had this phobia of anyone using the word favor around me.

Joe Katz:
Oh, yeah.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Do you know what I mean? Like I was just-

Joe Katz:
Sure. Sure.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
... just scared that people would think that I had a leg up, an active leg up. Of course there's the passive one of people being like, "Oh, okay, there's a Kingsley," but an active one, because dad is not really one for nepotism in that sense. Firstly, I'm not really sure he'd know how to go about cheating the system to get me into it. He's sees himself as a jobbing actor like the rest of us. I think if he knew how to use his powers for evil, he'd be straight on it.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
But, yeah, and also just for my own pride, I wanted to... I thought, "I can't be going through this whole rigmarole and this career which I want to be doing for a million years, until they have to wheel me on and wheel me off." I can't go through that thinking, "I don't really deserve to be here, because I'm only here because dad set up some meeting." So I would never let that happen. I pushed against it for the first few years of my career, being a bit squeamish about acknowledging that dad is dad and he's brilliant, and is something actually to be celebrated.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
And he's one of the main reasons I do love what I do, because common conversation points out, the things that we love talking about and the things that have always made me grin and laugh throughout my childhood and my relationship with dad, have been to do with storytelling and to do with silly voices and performance. So I've learned to love that.

Joe Katz:
That's great. That's great.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Well, I've learned to be comfortable with loving it. I always loved it but for a while I probably went, "No. No, no, no, I only like acting because I solved a riddle when I was young and no one actually talked to me about acting, and I discovered it. In fact I invented acting."

Joe Katz:
Yes, yes, so you're the inventor.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah.

Joe Katz:
Give me an example... Like did your dad ever tell you, like, "Okay, you're getting into acting. Here's a piece of advice. When you get into this, you should always do this," or...

Ferdinand Kingsley:
There was... I mean other than, "Don't."

Joe Katz:
People always say that and I'm always like, "Why do people say that?" Like, don't.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
No, he didn't say it. He didn't say don't [crosstalk 00:18:17]

Joe Katz:
Because it's hard.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah, he didn't say, "Don't." He made sure... In fact, both my parents made sure that I knew that it is tough, it can be lonely for all sort of reasons. You can spend a lot of time on your own if you're working and you can feel very alone if you are not. It can be tough on your mental health. It can be tough on your family and the people around you. And I was like, "Guys, I know, they're from a broken home, I get it."

Joe Katz:
Right. You could talk about that. Yeah. You know about that. Yeah.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
But so, advice was, "Be realistic and know that for all the brilliance of dad and his career, that's not normal. That's not to be expected from an acting career." That's winning the lottery.

Joe Katz:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ferdinand Kingsley:
So, don't expect "glory" in that sense. And just focus on telling the stories, even if it's to five people and a dog. That's worthwhile. Both my parents believe very passionately in acting and actors and storytelling and theater and film and TV as really important mediums for humanity, and not wanting to sound too grandiose, but in that sort of... Dad sometimes talks about the voices round the campfire. It's sort of built into us as humans, in a tribal sense, to need to communicate through metaphor, through shared storytelling, through sometimes telling a story that's ostensibly not about you but of course is unlocking something deep inside yourself.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
So that is part of human nature and it's something to be really cherished. And I guess one thing that dad really did drum into me is that while acting can be really therapeutic, it shouldn't be treated as therapy. And I think there's like a fine line which I really agree with there. I think the process of, as I've just said, sharing stories and going deep into yourself and into someone else and empathizing is very therapeutic and in expressing yourself, but if you're doing it in order to just dig into yourself, then who're you doing for? You're not doing it-

Joe Katz:
Right. Right.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
... then that becomes therapy which is, you may as well just do in the privacy of your own bedroom.

Joe Katz:
Right. Or go see your therapist. Yeah.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Or go see a therapist.

Joe Katz:
Right.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Because then you're doing it on the audience's time.

Joe Katz:
Right.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
And the act of performing is an act of giving, in my opinion. It's an act of unlocking, and it's an act of, you know, you should have opened your chest up and you go, "Look, it's here. Here's me. Here's what I'm struggling with. Here's what I'm trying to access. What about you? Here's some questions I'm asking you through doing it," or, "Here is a gift I'm giving you through laughter," or whatever it is. But if you're just there, just sort of banging your chest and smacking your head against the wall going, "I need to have feelings," then the audience is actually going to come away from it feeling a bit grossed out.

Joe Katz:
Right. Like they-

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Because they're going, "Hang on, I'm..."

Joe Katz:
... what are they getting from it?

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Exactly. They're like, "I've just paid to watch you essentially have a one-man therapy session," and that's actually not very fulfilling. So, yeah, they [inaudible 00:22:19] drummed into me.

Joe Katz:
Did he ever give you advice about your acting style? There's so many different styles, I don't know, a lot of people might now, there's like Stanislavski, there's Meisner, there's all these different types of things. When you get into a role, which we're going to talk about your role in Mank, like getting into that role, what do you do? Is there a certain technique you use? Is there something that you use to get into that character?

Ferdinand Kingsley:
No, there isn't any one way, and I think that's kind of down for me, and I think that's down to my training, actually. At drama school, at Guildhall, they were very anti-guru. We'd be, as you say, we would study Stanislavski and Meisner and all sorts, and clowning, and the techniques that have a name attached to them.

Joe Katz:
Right. Right.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
But we'd study them without going, you are now at the altar in the church of Stanislavski, or whatever. It was very much like, everything, all those methods are streams that lead into one big river. So, take what you need when you need it. And I think as a result, in my career, I've sort of gone, "Oh, I don't know what kind of actor I am." But I've grown comfortable with that, actually, because I think I like being an adaptable actor that has... I've got my own set of approaches to stuff in terms of studying the text and of working out my actions and intentions and obstacles, and the basics like that, but beyond that I like to just collaborate and enjoy the game of it. The "jeu", as some French directors would say. The-

Joe Katz:
What do they call it? The...

Ferdinand Kingsley:
"Le jeu," the game.

Joe Katz:
Called "le jeu". Oh, the game. Yes, yes.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah.

Joe Katz:
I'm learning a lot from you, Ferdie, today.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Oh, I don't know if I told you, I'm very clever.

Joe Katz:
You are amazingly clever.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
So, I mean, I astound myself.

Joe Katz:
Yes. Yes.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
So, in terms of method, between actors, I just like to play the game and give. If you give on stage or on set, you get. But in terms of directors, I love to see how they like to work, and of course David Fincher, he has not a method, but he definitely has a work style which I think you've either got to buy into and go and enjoy the ride and get stuck in, or you'll just have a really grim time, just because everyone else will be flourishing and working hard, and you'll just be sitting there going, "Well, I don't want to work hard." And then you get to the end of the job and go, "Oh, maybe I should have worked hard."

Joe Katz:
Right.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Because, if it feels a bit too much like hard work on a Fincher set, then you shouldn't be there, because Fincher is going to make you work to your-

Joe Katz:
Work hard.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah, he's going to make you work to the best of your potential, I think.

Joe Katz:
That's great. So, let's talk about that. What was it like working with him?

Ferdinand Kingsley:
I mean, I loved it. I was a pig in shit, for which he called me, when I told him that I loved every second of it, on the last day, he was like, "Well, you're a fucking masochist." I mean, it's intensive rather than intense. I mean, he's famous for doing a lot of takes, as many of your listeners might or might not know. He does a lot of takes, sometimes 20, 30, sometimes 60, 70, of a shot.

Joe Katz:
Really?

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah. Yeah, yeah. A lot. A lot.

Joe Katz:
And like a small take. Like what we're going to see in the upcoming film, like it's... Of tons of takes.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah. But he likes to run the whole thing wherever possible. So if it's a four or five minute scene, you'll do... And that's per camera angle. So you'll be spending a couple of days on it for a minute scene, easily.

Joe Katz:
Oh, my gosh.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Because you're doing it over... And there's a sort of graph of... I don't know, my mental state, working away. You start out like, "Great, I can do this. I can do five of these." And he's giving you four or five notes after each take, and then after a while you start going, "Okay, can I take on board all these notes because I'm now up to about 30 notes on this one. I'm trying to process them all. I can't possibly be doing anything good because I'm just making noises out of my mouth and I don't know if they're good ones." And then you just sort of, the graph comes back up and you're like, "Oh, I think I'm playing something that we talked about, about two hours ago. This is brilliant."

Ferdinand Kingsley:
And then, by the end, you're like, "I don't think I'm acting, but it's in there, somewhere." And then on the last couple of takes, there's always, "Just do it faster and simpler. Just throw away everything that we've talked about and just go back to basics and do it quickly and simply." So, that's what I mean about... If you decide that that's not for you, and you just want to get it done in one or two takes, you're going to have a horrible time.

Joe Katz:
Wow. That's intense.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
But if you just go, "Right, I'm running this marathon. This is a long distance run and I'm going to go for it and I'm going to come out the other side of it fitter," then you have a great time. And I absolutely loved it.

Joe Katz:
Aren't you exhausted after like 60 takes?

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah. You are. But it's that good exhausted.

Joe Katz:
And you're okay.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah.

Joe Katz:
Oh, it's good.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
But it's that really... Because it feels like that exhausted that you feel when you've done some really hard workout, or something like that, where you go, "You know, I'm drained but I feel stronger now." And I know that-

Joe Katz:
Right. It's like working out. Right?

Ferdinand Kingsley:
... yeah, totally. And as a result, I went home... Well, I went back to the hotel, the end of work every day, feeling just that little bit better at my job than I'd started the day, which is such a nice feeling, isn't it? You know, when you... If in anything, if you finish a part of a project and you feel like you might be a little bit better at it than you were at the start, then that's a really nice feeling.

Joe Katz:
So, let's talk about... We're talking about Mank, because this is the film that's coming up on Netflix. It doesn't come out till December, so, you'll be able to hear this and you'll be able to see you in this. So, did you do a lot of scenes with... Was it with Gary Oldman or with a lot of the other-

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah, most of my stuff is with Gary, and the remainder of it is mostly with Arliss Howard who plays Louis B. Mayer, who's absolutely wonderful as well. But, yeah, most of my scenes are... I mean, Gary Oldman's in basically every shot in the film. So, most of my stuff is sort of duologues with him, is one-on-ones with him. And he's... Gary's fab. And he just feels like one of us. He's incredibly... This shouldn't be extraordinary, but it is. He's very normal. First day of rehearsals, he just comes over and is like, "Hello, mate, how're you doing? How's everyone at home? What's going on? How you're holding up? How're you feeling? But I'm feeling nervous. Are you feeling nervous?" He's-

Joe Katz:
Oh, he said, "I'm feeling nervous?"

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Well, I think he's very honest.

Joe Katz:
It's like getting started with the new project, and-

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah. Exactly, exactly. First day at school feeling.

Joe Katz:
Right. Right, right. Starting something.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
And there's no sense of him... He doesn't behave like his process is anything mysterious. He's just really extremely good at his job, and when he struggles with it, he makes no secret of that. If he's not getting to the place he wants to get, he's just like the rest of us. He's like, "Oh, come on, man, we can do this." He's not sitting in the corner doing some mysterious process that no one's allowed to be part of. He's just really great [crosstalk 00:30:58] and I think he's in a happy place in himself. And I think out of a happy place always comes good work.

Joe Katz:
Yeah. When you guys are working on the set together, does he ever say to you, "You know, Ferdinand, could you give me more of blah, blah, blah?" Or it doesn't work like that? Is that more David Fincher, the-

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah, I mean, Finch is the tweaker in that regard. Gary is... He's just like giving the thumbs up, giving more, or saying... He might say, "What do you think about us doing... having a look here, or a little inflection there, or whatever." But he would never direct me, even though he's-

Joe Katz:
Right. Right.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
... he's a really good director in his own right.

Joe Katz:
Right.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
He can do it. Nil by Mouth is an amazing film.

Joe Katz:
Wow. That's cool.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
But he's really generous. Really, really generous. And he's a generous actor, and he's a generous person.

Joe Katz:
It sounds like... I mean, that's truly what the acting process... The more you give, the more you get back, the more wonderful it is for the people to watch it. Right? I mean-

Ferdinand Kingsley:
I think so. And I assume it's not dissimilar in your work. I mean, I feel like, in most things in life, the more we give, the more we get.

Joe Katz:
Yeah. Yeah.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
If you sit back and just wait for everything to come to you, it's actually ultimately unfulfilling, isn't it?

Joe Katz:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. Definitely. Definitely. Yeah. It's totally... I mean, it really is, in a way, but I think a lot of times what happens in the world, we start getting very focused on me, you know what I mean?

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah. Yeah.

Joe Katz:
Like, we think, "Oh, what about me?" And... you know [crosstalk 00:32:47] you get nervous.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
And my pain, and my struggle, and my... Absolutely.

Joe Katz:
Yeah. Yeah. I think, it's normal, natural stuff. But, just out of curiosity, do you still audition for things? Or do people go-

Ferdinand Kingsley:
[inaudible 00:33:01]

Joe Katz:
... "Oh, Ferdinand, I love him. Bring him and give him this part. He's fabulous."

Ferdinand Kingsley:
I mean, I would love to... I mean, shall we just say, for the sake of our discussion-

Joe Katz:
Yes, but let's just say for this [crosstalk 00:33:10]

Ferdinand Kingsley:
... that everyone just-

Joe Katz:
... you don't ever audition.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
... if you want me, you can come to me-

Joe Katz:
You and Brad Pitt.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
... you know where the find me. Yeah. Exactly. No, I absolutely... My process for choosing a role mainly revolves around, "Please, can I audition for it?" And, then, "Please, can you give me a chance to do it?" And then, "Please, don't fire me."

Joe Katz:
Yeah. Don't fire me, at all. [crosstalk 00:33:32]

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah, please don't let them fire me.

Joe Katz:
Wow. Yeah. That's cool. I can see your... I'm just looking at your guitars behind you. Do you play guitar?

Ferdinand Kingsley:
I do. I mean, they're reasonable neglected, actually. There's two or three... How many are in this room? There's four guitars in this room. They're reasonably neglected. I used to play a lot of guitar. I play less now but I love it. But I do... Music is my other outlet. So, I produce a lot of music, and, yeah, like strum away on the guitars when-

Joe Katz:
What kind of music?

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Terrible music, mainly. No, I-

Joe Katz:
Really?

Ferdinand Kingsley:
No, no, no, no, no. All sorts. I've produced for singer-songwriters and bands, but when I'm working on my own projects it tends to be more electronic stuff, and I work with a friend of mine who's a musician, and, I guess, and a poet, who writes long-form poetry that's sort of thematically linked. So we're working towards putting a sort of semi-concept record together which is exciting. It's one of those things that during this car crash of a year, has been strange, because I started out with such good discipline, and I'd wake up and do my 7:00 a.m. yoga. Do like loads of exercise, get creative, do loads of writing, do loads of reading, do loads of music. And then, just pandemic fatigue started to set in, I was hoping because [crosstalk 00:35:13] of us.

Joe Katz:
And then here we are.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
And I just found myself occasionally sitting, looking out the window and going, "Oh, a day has happened."

Joe Katz:
And here I am looking out the window.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
And, here I am staring out the window.

Joe Katz:
And... scene.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah.

Joe Katz:
Wow. So, can we hear your music anywhere? Or no? Not yet.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
I mean, in the past, there's things out there that I've worked on, definitely, but this new project, no, not yet.

Joe Katz:
Not yet. Oh, that's interesting. Wow. Okay. So, I want to ask you, because, can you believe, we're almost out of time, and I feel like we're just getting started.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
I refuse. I refuse.

Joe Katz:
Yeah, I'm not stopping. We're just going to plow through and it's just going to be what it is. I just happened to see those guitars and it just... Draw me, I could not say it. So, who knows what... Maybe next time, you'll play us a song.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah, next time I'll have a whole light show, I'll have smoke machines, it'll be very dramatic.

Joe Katz:
That would be lovely. I would love it, all right there. Tell me, because we talked about fashion on this show, when you get ready for red carpet and stuff like that, what do you say your style is? Like you're a stylish guy, you're kind of a cool vibe, like...

Ferdinand Kingsley:
I'm going to record a clip of you saying that. It's going to be my-

Joe Katz:
Oh well, then you can play it everywhere.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
... ring tone when everyone rings me, just hear you going, "You're a stylish guy."

Joe Katz:
You're a stylish guy.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
My style, I mean, I describe it reluctantly as... I mean, it's erratic, like everyone, like a lot of people's is. It's so tied to my mood and how I'm feeling about myself. If it's a crap day, I find myself, and I really want to change this about myself, I find myself actively choosing clothes. I hate... I just sort of, "Well, I'll go through my wardrobe," and will be like, "No, those clothes are too nice for you the wear. You don't deserve to [crosstalk 00:37:11]

Joe Katz:
I'm going to punish myself today.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah. I know. It's terrible. And they're not even... I don't even mean expensive by nice. I just mean like, "Well, you know, they fit you too well. You should wear your bad trousers today." But I-

Joe Katz:
This is... We'll get into therapy then, after this-

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah, please do.

Joe Katz:
... we're going to talk about that. Something deep. Yeah.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
I love fashion. I'm not as concerned with what is most current about fashion. For me, and it sounds obvious, but it's all about fit for me. I'm quite a skinny minny, I'm quite a skinny boy with quite broad shoulders, and straight lines work well on me. So I love simplicity in fashion, and, yeah, simplicity is what I go for, for an event, generally. I like clean lines, a sort of classic template, but maybe with something that reminds me that it's me underneath. If it's some absolutely gorgeous double-breasted suit, then I might want to wear one of my favorite T-shirts or something like that, or a pair of really lovely trainers, sneakers. So something that-

Joe Katz:
That's cool.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
... that reminds me that the really fancy part is kind of a costume, as it were, but that there's a bit that goes with it that's always going to be me and that I don't... And also that reminds me that any glitz that goes with this, with being fortunate enough to be in stuff that has glitz attached to it, is not everything. Like, it's great, and it's wonderful, and it should be enjoyed, and it should be celebrated, but when I dress up for something I'm reminding myself that, yeah, this is a game in itself. This is not real life, almost-

Joe Katz:
Don't take it too serious. Like-

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Don't take it too seriously.

Joe Katz:
... nothing serious. Right. Right.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Like, this isn't real life for most people. I think the moment I get used to, or blasé about, or tired of, or bored of all that stuff, will be the moment I should stop doing this job, because I think you should be aware of how wonderful and ridiculous and not normal it is at all times. I think if you start going, "Ugh, it's just another bloody red carpet," and, "Oh, just put some tuxedo on me, just be... I deserve it. I'm entitled to this." Then, get lost. Give it to someone who's desperate to do it, because-

Joe Katz:
Right.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
... I think you should have a sort of childlikeness approach to fashion, as I think you do. It's like, there's glee in it. There's absolutely joy in it, and it's expression. Yeah, that was quite a roundabout answer to your question about [crosstalk 00:40:36]

Joe Katz:
No, that's good. That's good. I have some quick questions to ask, [crosstalk 00:40:40] I'm going to shoot them off really quick because I know we've got to end soon. I always like to ask people, what's one thing you've never told anybody? It doesn't have to be like crazy personal. If you want to get personal, you can, then it'll be personal with me and you and the world.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
And the world.

Joe Katz:
Or, it could be... Or, just, us. It'll just be us.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
The COVID vaccines were my idea.

Joe Katz:
Really?

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah. No. I think actually what I just blurted out to you a couple of minutes ago trying to be my answer to that, in that I... Well, actually, no, I've not-

Joe Katz:
Something that people don't know about you.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
... I haven't said this to anyone but-

Joe Katz:
Yeah.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
I don't know about... I think I'm very good at brave facing, putting on a brave face, and I've been exceptionally good at it this year, but I think possibly to my own detriment. I think I was the person at the beginning of this who, to my friends, was just going, "Look, this is going to take us a while. It's going to be a year, at least, of this pandemic." You know, Mr. Know It All going, "It's going to be... Even if they find a vaccine now," because it was my idea, "It's going to take a while to get into mass production and safety check," and all that. But I think I'm a little bit worried about the effect that this year has had on my brain. I feel that it sort of slightly softened it. That it's slightly blunted.

Joe Katz:
What does that mean, softened?

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Well, I think it's the wrong word to use, but I think my attention span has been damaged by this year. I think my discipline has taken a hit. I think my willpower is similar to discipline. Yeah, so I mean, I think it's just something that I don't say out loud that much, is that while I think I've done a really good job of surviving the shitstorm of the year, I am actually a little bit... not dreading, but I'm a bit anxious about what version of me is going to come out of it the other side. How's that?

Joe Katz:
Well, you have a good thing coming out of the other side, which is Mank. So, that's pretty good, don't you think You have a movie-

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah, absolutely.

Joe Katz:
... you have a movie coming up.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
It's an amazing thing to-

Joe Katz:
Okay.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
... to have coming up. To have made it before the world as we knew it stopped, and to know that it's going to come out and be in people's homes during it, is such a gift and it's been something to hold onto, absolutely. To go, "Look, you're in something-

Joe Katz:
That's amazing.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
... you're really proud of."

Joe Katz:
Yeah. That's something you can come out of. You're going to say, you came out of this. Can I ask you one last thing, and then I promise I will wrap up. Can you talk American? Like if they're, like, "Like, Ferdie, we want you to talk just like an American dude."

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah. I mean, I'm playing an American in the movie.

Joe Katz:
Oh! You have no... Can you give me a non-American accent? Or, I mean, an American accent? Now.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
No. I'm not your... I'm not your clown. I do not do this.

Joe Katz:
I like to play... I always loved British accents. I loved what... And then I see so many people that go... And then they switch over to just like an American [crosstalk 00:44:20]

Ferdinand Kingsley:
But I tell you what, one of the... So I'm playing Irving Thalberg in the movie, who was very much an American, and I keep... I'd always, when I was getting into his voice, I'd always repeat one of my lines, which is, "I know what I am, Mank." I just don't know why. I'd always just say that to myself, because it's one of the things-

Joe Katz:
Oh, that would get you back in it?

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Yeah. I just... No, even just for character as well as the voice. But that's part of a speech that I have in the film, when I'm sort of... Well, Gary's character and I are confronting each other about our beliefs and our morals, and how we use our power. And that line, "I know what I am, Mank," is something that I just kept-

Joe Katz:
Oh, that's cool.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
... saying under my breath to myself before a take.

Joe Katz:
You have been so giving. Thank you so much, Ferdie, for being-

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Thank you for having me [crosstalk 00:45:15]

Joe Katz:
... on my show. It's so cool. I'm so excited to see your movie.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Thank you.

Joe Katz:
There's so many great things coming, I'm excited. I could talk to you for another hour about everything else.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Well, let's do it again sometime.

Joe Katz:
Let's do it again, why not? Why not? All right, thank you so much.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Thank you.

Joe Katz:
We'll be back in touch and thanks for being on my show.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Brilliant. Enjoy the movie. Thank you.

Joe Katz:
See you.

Ferdinand Kingsley:
Cheers, Joe.

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